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Fever, referred to medically as pyrexia, can be defined as a higher than normal body temperature in dogs. With the normal range falling between 99.5-102.5 Fahrenheit, a body temperature of at least 103.5 ° F (39.7° C) can be considered a fever.
The cause of the fever is not always obvious. An elevated temperature on at least four occasions over a 14-day period without any obvious cause is referred to as a fever of unknown origin (FUO). Otherwise, fever is considered a healthy biological response to a bacterial or viral threat.
Fever is not the disease itself, but a response to the threat of disease. Therefore, it should be remembered that fevers can be beneficial for a sick animal, as it lowers the rapid division of bacteria and enhances the body's immune system response. However, a fever that is too high or goes on for a prolonged period of time needs medical treatment.
Diagnosing the underlying cause can be a daunting task. You will need to provide your veterinarian with a detailed medical history for your dog, including contact with infectious agents, travel history, drug usage, insect bites, recent vaccination, allergies, surgery, and any other previous illnesses, as well as the first onset of the fever. A detailed physical examination will be conducted to identify an underlying disease condition. After the history and physical examination are performed, routine laboratory tests will include a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. These tests may provide valuable information in identifying any underlying conditions or infections that may be leading to the increased temperature. In case of infections, your veterinarian may also conduct culture and sensitivity testing to identify the specific disease causing organism so that the most suitable drugs can be prescribed to treat it. More specific testing may be required to identify the causative organism.
Radiographic studies may also help in the course of the examination, and may turn up tumors, abscesses, and/or infections. More advanced techniques like ultrasonography, echocardiography, computed tomography (CT) scan, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be employed for some patients. Other diagnostic tests, such as endoscopy, may be required in some patients if they appear to have an internal infection or obstruction.
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